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Nicole Giovagnoli October 2013 Environment Reflection Day 1: Tuesday, September 24 Today I focused on communicating personal enthusiasm during

the class period. Getting students to complete a proof of a theorem all on their own, I knew would not be very well received by the students presented bluntly and as is. However, by using voice inflections and being energetic/enthusiasticI was able to positively influence student behaviors and attitudes in the classroom.
I challenged students to work individually to complete a proof of a theorem relevant to a proof they just worked on in class. The students initially were intimidated to work on a proof from scratch completely on their own. However, with positive encouragement, scaffolding, support, and letting them know they could do it with a smile on my face; every single student was able to prove the statement that all right angles are congruent, in a few logically simple steps. After circulating throughout the room and seeing what progress they had made in their reasoning abilities, I exclaimed to the class how proud I was of them and that they just proved a theorem all on their own and they should be very proud of themselves as well! One of my academically weaker students even volunteered after this to explain the proof at the board to the rest of the class. After he had finished and was walking back to his seat he said to me grinning ear to ear, that I have come a long way havent I Ms. G? I really do believe that my personal enthusiasm affected the attitudes of the students, in this case as well as others. In a situation where reluctance and discontent would not be unusual, these students got out their notebook paper, and attacked the problem as a reasonable challenge; and from the look on their faces afterwards they were all pleased with their success. Enthusiasm, positive encouragement, and belief in your students are things that I plan on bringing to every lesson that I can.

Day 2: Wednesday, September 25 I focused today particularly on demonstrating warmth and friendliness by using learners names in a warm and friendly way; smiling, laughing, and displaying a sense of humor; and sitting/standing near learners. I do feel like this is something that I do every day that I am in the classroom. However, today I paid extra close attention to how it seemed to affect my students. Originally, we had planned on students working on proofs again today in their teams. However, Ms. Rogers and I found it necessary to have students work on a thought provoking worksheet that had students work problems relevant to those covered in the book before doing more proofs. The students were focused and worked diligently on their activity while I circulated throughout the room answering questions and guiding students thinking group to group. The way the teams are set up, there is an empty desk in three of the seven groups, and on this day there were a few kids absent in other groups, leaving other empty seats. I was able to physically sit with the students in the different groups when helping themas I do most days. If a particular student called for help I responded using their name, Annie, what can I help you with? The students were very receptive of these things. From two separate groups on this particular day I had students ask me if I could just teach them the rest of the year, which made me happy because I felt like I must be doing something right! Students were more likely to pay

attention to what I was explaining if I was sitting physically next to them and writing out the problem on a separate sheet of paper for them to see. The willingness to be on their level and to support them goes a long way. I plan on always using student names when attending to the class, and whilst group work is going on, sitting in the groups with students really seems like an effective strategy. Building that personal relationship with students is really important in being an effective teacher. Students are able to tell that the teacher sincerely cares about the well-being and success of his/her students on a group and individual basis. If students know that their teacher always has their best interests in mind as an individual, a student will be more willing to put forth the extra effort, be present, and be an active participant in class. Day 3: Wednesday, October 2 Today I began class by directly relating the concepts of the days lesson, with the students world. I did this by telling them to picture the room they are in as planes intersecting in space, and containing lines and segments within them. We were able to, as a class, name lines within the planes making up the classroom walls as parallel, skew, or perpendicular. Students responded well to this, all jumping in with different examples within the room that they found. This acted as a great jumpstart to the activity sheet they were to work on during the period. While circulating, students were clearly struggling with the proof on the third page. I decided to complete the proof on the board with the whole class. The proof was of the theorem: If two parallel planes are intersected by a third plane, then the lines of intersection will be parallel to each other. By relating the planes and lines to the ceiling and floor of the room being intersected by the vertical plane of the wall, students were able to visualize and believe in the validity of the proof. By taking math concepts and making it accessible to students supports their learning. In this case points, lines, and planes can be very abstract (and undefined). So helping students visualize what is being discussed builds a foundation for their understanding. We can do this by directly connecting the math with the students every day to day life. Students are able to better make connections between the math, its relevance, and its usefulness in their lives. Students start trusting what I tell them, and believe in their own learning. A classroom in which the teacher cares about the students learning and students care about what a teacher is teaching is a happy classroom. Day 4: Thursday, October 3 Today I came to the classroom focused on giving learners personalized praise for specific performance when they do well, as well as giving learners personalized encouragement when they have difficulty. After deciding to alter the lesson plans by not doing the TI-Nspire activity planned, I listened to student feedback from earlier in the week and decided to do white board problems. Two students in second period, and a few in first period let me know that they learned better when I worked out problems at the board better than doing worksheets for most of the period. So today I selected problems out of the book, to have students work at their desks on white boards first, then hold up and go over at the board

as a class. This worked out great! Students responded to each question as if I was challenging them, and I was able to scan the room when they held up their answers and individually as well as collectively give them praise. While circulating I did the same. And for students that where stuck, I asked probing questions, and offered scaffolding to help them get started, and encouraged them by telling them things like, I know you can find x or remember you did one like this before perfectly! One student, I saw that he did the problem correctly and asked him (not in front of the whole class) if he would do the problem at the board. At first he was reluctant, but with encouragement he agreed to do it and he explained it beautifully! Positively encouraging students, believing in their success, and giving them positive feedback are all aspects of a positive and progressive classroom environment. Positive attitudes and words breed more positivity. Thus when a teacher offers positive feedback and encouragement, then students will start developing positive attitudes toward math, their work, and their personal achievement. Day 5: Friday, October 4 Today I decided to spend the period having students work book questions on their personal white boards. I displayed the question and figure on the board, and then had students work the problem and circle the answers on their whiteboards to hold up when they were done. I either explained the process on the board after students held up their answers, or I had a volunteer come to the board and explain their rationale. The whole time students were working I was circulating throughout the room, on my feet, and checking their workmaintaining an energetic posture the entire period. Furthermore, when explaining the answer to the problem at the board, I used gestures to accentuate pointsespecially in regards to emphasizing where the parallel lines and transversals where in the figures. I expanded the parallel lines and traversals past their endpoints, and color coded them and the angles so that students could visually delineate and identify angle types in the diagram. I really think that this was effective in the students learning process, especially in visually breaking down the diagrams. At one point in the lesson, one of my students, who has a hard time visually and spatially recognizing relationships, sought my individual help while I was circulating. Even after bolding the lines I wanted him to focus on, and blocking out parts of the diagram with my paper, he still wasnt seeing the angle relationship. Mrs. Weber jumped in and suggested placing markers over the parallel lines to clearly represent them. It wasnt until then that the student got it. This is one of those critical attributes of being an effective teacherbeing flexible in your thinking as well as your teaching style. Furthermore, the persistence in wanting this particular student to understand a certain concept I think plays a large part in the way he perceives the classroom environment. He knows that I care about his learning, as well as the classs; which makes for a positive atmosphere in the classroom. Final Reflection I believe that the past three weeks have taught me so much already about teaching. I know that things definitely dont always work out like you originally plan, but thats normal and okay. You have to listen

to your students input and consider their opinions in making lesson alterations. I have truly witnessed how important it is to get to know your students, use their names regularly, talk to them like real people before and after class, ask them about themselves, their interests, and their day. Students notice that you care and have respect for them as individuals, and they will reciprocate. For instance, on Thursday, I came to first period not feeling well. The group in the front picked up on that before the bell rang and asked if I was okay. Furthermore, just walking around Buchholz in between periods, especially when Im there all day volunteering, if I see students in the hallways they will say hello and ask me how Im doing, tell me to have a good day, etc. since I do the same for them every day in the classroom. Finally, I feel like Ive fully realized the power of building a positive classroom environment. Behavior problems do not exist, and students are on task. Learning can much more easily take place in an environment that utilizes the different characteristics I focused on in these five journal entries as well as every day in the classroom, and every day from this point forward.